November is Hospice Awareness Month in Bermuda

Agape House, part of the Continuing Care Unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, today announced that November is Hospice Awareness month. This month will be marked by the following events:

– November 7, 2:00 pm, “Walk to Remember”, a pledge walk benefiting Agape House. The walk starts at the Visitors Centre in Botanical Gardens. It is organized by Friends of Hospice, a non-profit organization that is the fundraising arm of Agape House.
– November 18, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Agape Open House for the general public, healthcare professionals and relatives of patients
– November 26, 6:00 pm, Tree of Lights at the steps of City Hall

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and, in some cases, care is provided in the patient´s home. In Bermuda, Agape House serves as the only freestanding hospice centre. Services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or terminal illness. Hospice care is covered under most private insurance plans, as well as the government health plan.

“The Bermuda Hospitals Board fully supports Agape House as it raises awareness of hospice and palliative care in Bermuda, and draws attention to the important service it provides with so much compassion,” said Joan Dillas-Wright, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hospitals Board. “We urge the community to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Agape House.”

Palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to a broader population that could benefit from receiving this type of care earlier in their illness or disease process. No specific therapy is excluded from consideration. An individual’s needs must be continually assessed and treatment options should be explored and evaluated in the context of the individual’s values and symptoms. Palliative care, ideally, would segue into hospice care as the illness progresses.

How does hospice care work?
Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make decisions for the terminally ill individual. Members of the hospice staff will help assess the patient. The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each patient´s individual needs for pain management and symptom control.

The team usually consists of the patient´ s personal physician, hospice physician, nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy or other counselors, volunteers and speech, physical, and occupational therapists, if needed.

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice and palliative care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient´s needs and wishes. Support is provided to the patient´ s loved ones as well.

What services are provided?
Among its major responsibilities, the interdisciplinary hospice team manages the patient’s pain and symptoms, assists the patient with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying, provides needed drugs, medical supplies, and equipment, coaches the family on how to care for the patient, delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed, offers inpatient care when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home or the caregiver needs respite time, and provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends.

Palliative care enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life during the last phase of life. Such care depends upon an agreement between the individual, the physicians, the primary caregiver and the hospice team. The expected outcome is relief from distressing symptoms, the easing of pain, and/or enhancing the quality of life.

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